Robbery & Mugging

When it comes to knowledge on the concepts of crime, Marc MacYoung is in an unmatched source.

This Learning MAP will provide you with critical information on the different types of robberies, and the different types of people who commit them. You will also learn the basic procedures to greatly lower your risk of becoming a victim.

Regardless of who you are, this Course will provide you valuable insight and  robberies and muggings.

Click on your area of interest on the photo to get started.


Introduction - Marc MacYoung

Robbery is defined by the US department of Justice as: The taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody or control from a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear.

This is different from mere theft, where force is not used against you personally, but objects are stolen. In short:

Theft happens to your property. Robbery happens to you.

In theft your any damage will occur to the item stolen or other property

(i.e. your door kicked in by a burglar). With robbery the threat of harm is to you.

A pick pocket (who takes your wallet out of your purse) is not committing robbery, he is committing theft. Someone who walks up and puts a gun in your face and demands your purse is committing robbery. In a robbery, you are put in danger. This is why robbery is deemed a more serious crime.

IF you are lucky, you will only be offered the threat of violence.

Why is Avoidance Best?

It might require you to take extra steps, it might even require you to hang up your cell phone and return to where you came from.

Who's Going To Be Robbing You?

To understand both the dangers and why you want to avoid such situations, you might like to understand what kind of person commits robberies and muggings.

Kinds of robbery 

Different states have different definitions and different statutes regarding robbery. But there are basic kinds of robbery and often what you do for a living or where you live determines what kind of robbery you are most likely to encounter

Fringe areas 

Most personal robberies occur in what we call "fringe areas." This is a common term that runs through our system. What constitutes a fringe area might surprise you.

Robbery avoidance 

Avoidance sounds whimpy until you are staring down the barrel of a gun, then it begins to make all sorts of sense. Unfortunately, by then it is too late. It is far easier to avoid being robbed by taking simple and easy steps.

Car jacking 

Much of what you can do to prevent your vehicle from being carjacked can be found in the robbery avoidance page, however, there are some things that are specific to carjacking.

Mental Preparation

The cost of "defending yourself".

Many people think about getting a weapon or training to protect themselves from robbery. Others are appalled by the idea. We maintain this is a personal decision for each person to make. If you do chose to acquire either weapon or training, however, you are not exempt from deploying an avoidance strategy.There is a psychological cost of using lethal force on another human being.

Individual Robbery

The most common type of robbery is of the individual.

And the most common place for it is on your way to and from your car, nearly half of all robberies occur on the streets and in parking lots. With another 14 % happening in other locations, like subway and train stations, indoor ATMS and other locations. It is always important to recognize when you are entering into a "fringe area" where the likelihood of you being robbed increases.

There is over a 60% chance that you will be facing a weapon when robbed. That is however, a statistical norm across all types of robbery. The odds of facing a weapon go up significantly if you are being robbed by only one person. Strong armed tactics tend to be the domain of the pack, the individual mugger tends to prefer weapons - and guns are the most common.

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Robbery with Weapon

While all robberies are felonies, the use of a weapon tends to bring about stiffer penalties. While all robberies are considered violent crimes, it is not uncommon for states to upgrade the class of felony if a weapon is used in the commission of a robbery. That means the person who is robbing you is risking a much greater prison sentence if he is caught and convicted. And this doesn't bother them.

The weapon of choice is a gun. It is fast, easy to get and, since most robberies happen at point blank range, requires very little training to hit the target. All the robber has to do is point in the general direction and pull the trigger until either he runs out of bullets or you are on the ground screaming in pain. Guns make up for 40% of all robberies with knives and other weapons making up another 20%. Again these numbers are a national average that incorporate every kind of robbery.

Needless to say, guns, knives and other weapons make up a hundred percent of all ARMED robberies. And weapons are the norm for robberies of establishments.

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Strong Arm Robbery

Many people do not realize that 40% of all robberies are committed by strong arm tactics.

That doesn't sound too bad until you realize that this means you are being mugged by a wolfpack. A varying number of individuals surrounds you and then either threatens to, or proceeds, to savage you for you possessions. That means ten or so people proceed to pummel you, and often once you are on the ground, they continue to kick and stomp you.

Furthermore most states recognize both an extreme disparity of force and the shod human foot on a downed individual as legal justification for the victim to use lethal force in order to protect himself from immediate death or grevious bodily injury. Both of which can, and often do, occur during a strong arm robbery. It doesn't matter if they don't have weapons, ten people stomping you can kill or hospitalize you for months just as well as one person with a weapon.

Packs of young toughs roaming or loitering in an area are a serious danger sign. One that should be steniously avoided whenever possible. And do NOT walk into their midsts. That is literally walking into the lions jaws.

What makes these kind of robbery's even more difficult is how often the interviews of these kinds of robberies will be explained away as "they were just messin' witcha." And since no weapons have been displayed it is difficult to prove intent in such cases. Until the robbery has actually occurred there is no overt crime such as displaying or menacing with a weapon.

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Home Invasion

The sad news is that home invasion robberies have become common.

In areas where automatic garage doors are standard, a tactic often used is to follow the victim home from someplace and then either pull into the garage or jump out of the car and rush the person before the garage door closes.

In other areas, entry through the front door is common. Whether this is achieved by simply ringing the doorbell and crashing the door when the person answers it, through deceit (i.e. "My car is broke down, can I use your phone?") or just kicking in the door depends on the robbers.

While an individual can do a home invasion, these types of robberies tend to be the domain of packs and gangs. And they tend to be armed as well. This is because they expect there to be multiple people at home.

Fortunately, many of the best protections against a home invasion robbery will also keep your home safe from burglars. Other simple habits that will protect you from other kinds of robberies will cover the rest.

Home invasion 'robberies' are bad news. First, they're breaking the script of how robberies normally happen. Second, they're already in a secondary location -- a particularly isolated one. So you're a whole lot closer to bad shit happening, not because you do  anything wrong, but other way.

Thing is home invasion robberies are the new and big boogie man -- especially among the shooting world.  Many are pressing the idea 'you need to have guns every where in the house.' One tacit-cool cowboy really stepped on his dick by suggesting having a gun safe in the kids room -- with reporters in the room. (I have a totally different set of problems with this idea because, I don't believe in drawing fire towards the people I'm trying to protect ... DUH!)


Copula's points about home invasions, yes they are really bad news. Yes they do happen. And yes, they are a primed for shit to go really bad.

Oddly enough people who are most likely to have them happen are drug dealers -- and this includes your kids doing shit they shouldn't be doing. Then people from cultures/ ethnic enclaves that don't trust banks or the cops (e.g. merchants who keep large amounts of money in their homes). Then you get follow homes from the stores and nighttime invasions. But for the average person in a nice neighborhood? Not that likely.

And BTW, if you're really concerned, it's really easy and cheap to get a camera/intercom/doorbell unit. Gee there's three dudes standing on my porch... probably shouldn't open the door.

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Tips on Not Being Robbed

Robbery, by definition, is to take something from an individual by direct use of, or threat of, violence. It is "give it up or else." This is different from theft, which is committed through stealth (i.e. a pickpocket) or when you are not present (i.e. burglary).

It cannot be stressed enough that with robbery the criminal has come prepared to commit violence. There is no "warm up time" for the criminal. When he walks up to you he has already escalated it to the point where using physical violence makes sense to him.

This makes such encounters extremely dangerous from the get go. The victim seldom has a chance to "shift gears" fast enough to effectively defend herself. This is why it is critical for a would-be victim to recognize the developing danger signs of such an attack. And, having done so, take evasive maneuvers BEFORE the attack occurs. A common tactic is for the robber to just walk up and shoot a victim without warning. As the person is laying on the ground screaming in pain, the criminal takes what he wants.

This is why knowledge, awareness and avoidance are your best bets for staying safe from robberies. With these you can prevent yourself from being put into a position where you can be robbed. There is good news, however, the deterrents that successfully prevent a mugging also work against rapes by a stranger.

Tip #1 - For a week, pretend to be a mugger.

Pretend that you are the bad guy and are going to ambush someone. Where would you stand in order to observe people entering and leaving in areas you regularly go? Where could you stand so they approach you or you could approach them without you being seen?

Reason: Criminals seldom actually hide. It takes too long to emerge from a real hiding space. They most often position themselves in locations where they are not immediately seen. For example, many parking structures have areas where people exiting the elevators don’t look. People stepping off the elevator usually look towards their cars, not into a cubbyhole near the elevator. By standing there, criminals can watch a parade of potential victims. These areas are located where they can easily intercept a person or approach from behind. By playing this game, you acquaint yourself with such spots in areas where you regularly go. By being aware of these spots, you also tend to unconsciously check them. If you see someone loitering in such a location, it is a serious danger sign.

Tip #2 - When entering a "fringe area" glance around to see if anyone is about. 

This especially means looking behind you. By simply glancing around in certain areas you can reduce your chances of being raped or robbed by 90 percent! It takes no more than two seconds when stepping out of an elevator into a parking structure, walking into a parking lot, when approaching an ATM or stepping onto a train platform to assess if there is potential trouble present.

Reason: It lets you see trouble BEFORE it can position itself. If you don’t see anyone, return to your thoughts or the task at hand. You have guaranteed your safety -- with no more than a three-second investment. If someone is present, see if they are engaged in normal activities for that area. In a parking lot, a family walking to their car is engaged in normal activity for that area. In that case, return to what you were doing. However, a shady looking individual loitering against the wall is not acting normally for someone in a parking lot. This is a potentially dangerous situation, but unless he begins to move towards you, you are probably safe. If it is a group of loiterers, steer well clear of them or return to where you came from and request an escort.

If an individual or group of such characters begins to move towards you, leave the area. One of the most common forms of robbery, carjacking and kidnap for rape involves the criminal(s) loitering near the mall entrance and following the victim to her car. By just looking behind you as you enter a parking area, you can prevent this by knowing to circle back to the entrance.

Simply stated, this glance allows you to see what is occurring. Very seldom will the criminal be in perfect position to attack you when you enter an area. He must move into better position to attack you. By glancing around you will see him while he is still in this pre-position and take evasive measures before he gets into attack position. If the criminal can successfully position himself he will attack.

Tip #3  - Do NOT walk through (or pass close to) a pack of loitering 'toughs'

Nearly half of all personal robberies are 'strongarm' robberies. That means a group of teenagers surrounds you and demands money or they will physically assault you.

Reason: You are literally walking into the lion's jaws. The pack mentality is a baby version of the mob mentality, and that is not good. Numbers give the pack members both safety and anonymity. This makes them far more aggressive than normal. They can attack you with little risk to themselves. While this does not sound as bad as being threatened with a weapon, ten people "stomping" you can and will put you into the hospital for months.

Many strongarm robberies are NOT planned. Unfortunately, they are a result of a golden opportunity falling into the pack's collective lap. This is because someone entering an area where the group is decides not to be intimidated (or decides that they will leave him/her alone) and walks right into the pack's midst.

Unless you are able to casually gouge out another person's eye or pull the trigger with calm disregard to the pain and suffering you are causing, you will NOT be able to bluff a pack. So don't even try to intimidate them or convince them that they would be making a big mistake by "messing" with you. They have the numbers on their side and that means they have more force than you do alone. And if they call your bluff, you will be in some deep trouble.

Tip # 4 - Trust your inner alarms, even if there is no apparent reason. If you don’t like the ‘vibes’ someone is giving off, don’t let that person approach you. Withdraw from the area and return to "the lights and the noise."

Reason: Trust your instincts, your unconscious mind has recognized something amiss. If your alarms go off, something set them off, even if you don’t consciously recognize what it is! If something isn’t right, don’t wait to find out exactly what is wrong -- by then it will be to late. Your subconscious is picking up "nonverbal leakage". That is when someone's body language tells you what is really going on in spite of his words. This part of you recognizes intent.

If you want more proof, watch for him trying to develop the rest of AOI.

Tip #5 - Insist on a buffer of at least five feet against people who set off your internal alarms. In wide open areas fringe areas, make it fifteen. You have the right to tell someone "that's close enough" and it is NOT rude.

Reason: No stranger has a legitimate reason to approach you closer than five feet. Part of the interview process is to see if you will allow him to develop positioning. Often the criminal’s approach is hidden behind the guise of asking for something (regular interview). Even if you have the item, LIE! You’re out of cigarettes, you don’t have jumper cables, you don’t know where Park street is, etc. This removes his ‘excuse’ to approach. Insist that the person stay away. If he continues to approach, he has announced his intention, and it is not good.

A common ploy at this stage is to challenge you with the question "why you being so rude?" Do NOT fall for this tactic! It is the criminal testing to see if he can intimidate and confuse you! Usually this is said while the criminal is still advancing. As such he is still closing the distance so he can successfully attack you!

The response of "I'm not being rude, but you have no business coming closer" informs him that you are aware what he is trying to accomplish.

Tip #6 - Never be too proud to retreat or to walk wide of someone. If you don’t like a situation, it is better to err on the side of caution.

Reason: Most people are victimized not because the criminal is competent, but because they stay in an area where violence could be used against them. Literally, fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Don’t think you will intimidate a lion by sticking your head in its jaws. Nor should you worry about showing the criminal that you are afraid. If the criminal can get close to you in a fringe area, he will be able to successfully use violence.

Another reason people fail to remove themselves from danger is almost exclusive to women, and that is they don't want to hurt the criminal's feelings. They don't wish to insult him by indicating that they don't trust him. This is just one of the many downsides of Politically Correct thinking. People who subscribe to this kind of thinking do not wish to offer insult or imply to the criminal that they do not trust him because of racial issues.

There is a difference between being racist and being foolish. That's because there is an even bigger difference between being a violent and dangerous person and being of a certain ethnic origin. Violent and dangerous people come in all colors, races and creeds. Being born into an ethnic group doesn't automatically mean a person is violent. Nor however does it automatically mean that the person isn't violent.

Learn the difference. Once you know the signs of violent, angry people they are easy to spot no matter what race they are.

It makes perfect sense to walk wide of a potentially violent person...and to hell with his feelings. He doesn't care about your feelings as he is robbing you, raping you or assaulting you. And yes, this does require work on your part. It means you must learn the body language, clothing and behaviors common to violent people. If you don't then you are going to either be paranoid about everybody who is different than you or suicidally foolish about walking into the lions jaws.

Tip #7 -  Watch to see who is watching you. 

An integral part of a robbery is the "interview" it is during this time that the criminal selects someone and then decides if he can successfully rob that person.

Reason: Even if you are the most drop-dead gorgeous person on the planet, there are cultural rules as to how long one can acceptably look at you. Too much attention is a danger sign. While many women regularly deal with unwanted attention by looking away and pretending not to notice, this behavior can also set you up for a crime. By turning away from someone, you can also fail to see if he starts approaching you. If someone is paying too much attention, walk wide, but check out of the side of your eye to be sure that he has not decided to follow you.

Tip #8  - Go out of your way to avoid people getting out of cars in parking lots and on the street. 

Be careful of cars pulling up next to you and people getting out.

Reason: Many criminals drive to crime scenes, especially carjackings. One drives, the passenger pops out and robs you. Where is it normal to let someone out in a parking lot? Near the door. Seldom do people get out in the middle of a parking lot. While it is possible that the person being let out is going to his car, what are the chances that it is exactly where you are at the moment? When you see a car door open, cut across a lane. If he follows, he is obviously up to no good.

Tip # 9 - Don't run from danger, run to safety

Firmly entrench the difference in your mind.

Reason: Many people faunch and worry that showing fear will provoke an attack. On the other hand, many make a far worse mistake by insisting on a "no fear" approach. And in doing so, such people refuse to retreat from a dangerous situation. This is a pendulum swing to the other extreme based on piss poor communication by many so-called "experts" on the subject of self-defense who insist on telling people to walk with confidence as though you are heading somewhere.

Having spent a lifetime dealing with violent criminals I can, as a trained professional, firmly state: Violent criminals are dangerous.

Even with years of training and experience these people pose a threat to me. A threat that if I am not always on the ball when confronting them will result in me being injured or killed. And even if I am on top of it, I run the risk of getting hurt. With that in mind, what kind of threat do they pose to you? The answer is: A far greater one.

This is why you need to understand the difference between running and a strategic withdrawal.

If you are blindly running from danger, you WILL provoke chase. And unfortunately, the odds are that your pursuers will catch you. That is because you are just running with no specific goal in mind. The path you take will reflect that. When you run like this, there is no reason for your pursuers NOT to chase you. In fact, there is a good chance in your blind panic that you will run into a better, more isolated area - which will increase your chances of being assaulted and/or raped.

If on the other hand, you look at it as a strategic withdrawal to a better position you are less likely to make such a mistake. The best example of 'running towards safety' is to head to the police station. Run fiercely to the security guard station. With every step you take, the risk to your pursuers increases. Now, chasing you endangers them. Which brings us to the next point.

Tip #10 - Head for the lights and the noise. If someone tries to follow you, get close or is loitering in an ambush area get to an area where there are people.

Reason: Where you have lights and noise, you have people. Where you have people, you have witnesses and often people who’s job it is to arrest criminals. In a similar vein, if you have a job where you drive home at night, know where the police stations and all-night convenience stores are located. If followed, drive straight to them. Do NOT go home. On foot, go back to an area with people, report the incident and ask for an escort.

Do NOT head for areas of perceived safety that are in facts, traps. These are things that will in fact slow you down, like elevators, stairwells, your car or the door of your home. In parking structures, head for the ramp. In parking lots head back to where you came. In an apartment building the stairs are better than the elevator and anything is better than your door. People are your best source of safety, not things.

Tip #11 - Do NOT allow yourself to be surrounded.

There is no danger signal more obvious than being surrounded or criminals "splitting up" as they approach you. If you see this developing LEAVE!

Reason: Once you are surrounded you are trapped. There is very little you can do to prevent from being assaulted and even if you are a martial arts grandmaster, the odds are that you will be overwhelmed and beaten.

Fortunately, once you know the significance of this behavior it is both easy to spot and easy to avoid. It also sends a serious message to the would be robbers that you are aware of what they need in order to successfully rob you and you are not letting them have it. In that message is also the news that there are easier people to rob. People who will not pose as much of a threat as you do if they insist on cornering you.

Tip #12 - If despite all of this, a criminal still gets the drop on you don’t stand there and argue. 

Although this sounds asinine, you would be amazed at how common it is. Simply stated, since most people don't recognize the developing danger, it does literally "jump out of the bushes" to them. Sometimes they stand there in total shock and disbelief (which works well for the mugger, and in fact, usually saves their lives). However, other times the victim's don't accurately assess the threat, nor do they have time to shift out of their normal mindset. And that means they try to stand there and argue as though this were just a rude busboy in a restaurant. There is no better way to get shot.

Reason: If you go berserk and physically attack, you might survive, but at a cost. If you run you might survive. If your reaction is to verbally assault him though, he will shoot you. You may have an attitude, but he has one too...and a gun. And when looking down the barrel of one, it is no time to argue.

Tip #13 - NEVER allow yourself to be taken to a secondary location.

Most muggers only want your money or valuables, if you give them to him without resistance you will often be fine. However, if a mugger tries to force you into a car or take you to another location, all bets are off.

Reason: Secondary locations are death traps. If you are a woman and you allow yourself to be taken elsewhere the *absolute best* you can hope for is that you will only be raped. Which should tell you how bad it is if being raped is the best that will happen. While there is something like a 3% chance that you won't be raped, assaulted and/or murdered, this is kidnap. And in the eyes of the law, the only crime worse than kidnap is premeditated murder. The law savagely prosecutes kidnappers anyway so there is no reason for the criminal NOT to rape and kill you.


Until you are looking down the barrel of a gun, many other things seem far more important. But when you find yourself staring into the gaping chasm that is a gun's muzzle, you suddenly realize exactly what is, and what is not, important. All of those thoughts, feelings, emotions and confidence that lead you into the trap, suddenly seem very small in comparison to just staying alive.

This is why you must reprioritize many of the issues that will lead you into dangerous situations.

It is a sad truth that most people who are robbed, didn't have to be. A significant majority of personal robberies could have been easily avoided -- had the person taken these simple, non-violent steps. But if the person - for whatever reasons- decides to ignore these basic crime avoidance tips, then he or she is going to walk right into.

Car Jacking

Carjacking is a relatively new breed as crimes go. Using violence to hijack commercial trucks filled with goods has been around ever since the wheel was invented. While it is pretty safe to assume that the first car was stolen shortly after the automobile was invented, car theft has normally been a nonviolent property crime. Until carjacking came around.

These days, many, if not most, car thefts are committed by organized rings. Stealing cars is big business. In fact, it has become not only interstate, but international -- worth billions of dollars a year. It casts a massive shadow that extends from the legitimate (insurance companies, shipping companies and car dealerships) to questionable (shady auto body shops, junkyards and auto parts suppliers) to avowed criminals (gangs, drug- and illegal-alien-running cartels).

Car theft rings often recruit gang members and pay them upwards of $1,000 for what is, in effect, an hour's "work." They are sent out to steal a certain type of car. An industrious pack of nonviolent thieves can gather several cars in one day, netting upwards to $10,000 for a days work.

With carjacking, however, acquiring a car becomes just a few seconds of "work" and without telltale signs of break-in.


The 1995 Honda Civic was the most-stolen car during 2004, according to statistics from the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

Of the top 10 most-stolen vehicles, six were Japanese brands. All four domestic vehicles on the list are light trucks, including one minivan. The NICB statistics are based on data from the FBI Uniform Crime Report.

Popularity and longevity have a lot to do with a vehicle's attractiveness as a theft target. Not only are there more vehicles available to steal, but as cars get older they require parts more frequently, creating demand for parts from stolen cars.

Types of vehicles stolen can vary by the region and state. For example, the 1999 Bombardier Ski-Doo snowmobile was one of the 10 most-stolen vehicles in Maine. In most Midwestern states, cars from Detroit-based manufacturers dominate the most-stolen cars lists with few, if any, foreign cars making the top 10.

Most stolen cars in 2004 included 1995 Honda Civic, 1989 Toyota Camry, 1991 Honda Accord, 1994 Dodge Caravan, 1994 Chevrolet full-size C/K 1500 pickup, 1997 Ford F150 pickup, 2003 Dodge Ram pickup, 1990 Acura Integra, 1988 Toyota pickup, 1991 Nissan Sentra.

Important Points to Know About Carjacking (the Bad News)

Carjacking is a felony offense. In the eyes of the law, it is a violent crime against the person. That makes it not only a felony, but a higher class one. While grand theft auto also is a felony since it is not violent, the sentencing is less severe(1). A carjacker is risking a far more severe penalty if he is caught than a regular car thief. A person who is stupid, lazy, violent and selfish enough to think that this is an acceptable risk is not going to suddenly start making smart decisions when he has a gun in your face.

You are dealing with a stupid, violent person with a track record of violence. And now is not the time to be a hero.

If you argue or resist a carjacker, the odds are you will be shot.

Like all robbers, the carjacker has come to the situation ready, willing and able to commit violence. While it may seem "it comes out of the blue" to you, the carjacker already has prepared himself to commit violence. You are literally playing against a stacked deck. Everything he needs to commit serious violence is in place at the same time you are surprised and shocked.

Unfortunately, most people have never faced such raw, unbridled violence. They suddenly find themselves dragged out of their normal, everyday parameters of existence and thrown into a strange -- and dangerous -- alien landscape. It's a place where none of the rules they are accustomed to apply. An effective strategy to "defend your space" under normal circumstances could in this instant get your brains blown into a fine pink mist.

Your normal defenses are not enough. Words, anger or outrage are insufficient to protect yourself against someone committed to violence. It is nearly impossible for the average citizen to effectively defend himself when confronted in such a wild and unexpected manner. To go instantly from thinking about scheduling the day or what you are going to have for dinner to the killing savagery necessary to overcome an armed opponent is beyond even most trained martial artists. And by the time you could muster enough outrage to effectively defend yourself, the carjacker would have long since pulled the trigger.

Carjackers seldom operate alone. Although you only may have seen the guy who stuck a gun in your face, chances are that there are more of them around. Car thieves in general and carjackers especially tend to operate in groups. Often a driver will stop, let one of the members out of his car and wait until the vehicle has been stolen. They will then caravan to a drop-off point, and the thief will rejoin his comrades. Working in this manner, a group of thieves can steal many cars in one night and split several thousand dollars.

If something goes wrong with the carjacking attempt (i.e., you miraculously defeat the carjacker in a blaze of kung-fu glory without getting shot) there is a very good chance that his cronies will open fire on you. And unlike the carjacker, the gunmen will not be close enough for you to karate chop him. No matter how good you think your martial prowess may be, you can't dodge bullets -- especially if you are trapped between two parked cars. This same problem applies to any firearm defense you might muster. You can easily find yourself in a firefight after shooting your primary attacker. These are situations where you will be responsible for where your bullets go and any rounds you might fire as the accomplices flee.

If the carjacker gets your purse, as well, now you have identity theft and burglary problems. It isn't just the loss of your car that will be the problem, important information and credit cards are often lost in carjackings. This means you have to go through the hassles of canceling credit cards, changing your locks (remember he not only has your address now, but your keys, too) and protecting yourself from identity theft.

This is why you must spot the problem developing in order to save both yourself and your vehicle. If you don't see it coming, the best you can hope for is to save yourself. And you do that by giving the carjacker what he wants without resistance and escaping with your life.

Important Points to Know About Carjacking (the Good News)

There are two types of carjacking. The most common is when you walk to your car in a parking lot or street. The other is when you are in your car, but momentarily stopped (e.g., at a traffic light, entering traffic from a parking lot or turning).

The really good news is that what works to avoid being carjacked in the first example is the same as what you do to prevent yourself from being robbed. Those basic steps will go miles toward reducing your risk. By adding the following information and minor adjustments specific to carjacking, you can reduce your odds of being victimized even farther.

The other type of carjacking is best foiled by some simple measures.

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Literally every negative cliché about criminals tends to come to roost with muggers. They are stupid, lazy, violent and dangerous. And yes, they are often drug addicted. Add onto this that they often come from the most violent, dysfunctional and abusive backgrounds imaginable - and far worse than you can imagine.

To say that these people lack empathy is like saying that Genghis Khan dabbled in real estate -- a massive understatement. They don't care if they hurt you. Let's start out with the idea that this person is willing to offer you violence to get what he wants. Take a look in your wallet right now and see how much money is there. If you don't give it to him, he is willing to kill youfor that amount.

Muggers are the most pathological, sociopathic and dysfunctional morons(3) of the criminal world and they are the most violent and unpredictable. These are the guys who are so stupid and lazy that they only pry themselves up "to work" to engage in the least well paying and most violent of crimes.

It is important to recognize that the issue of these people's stupidity is NOT an elitist comment, but rather a statement of fact. Low IQs are very common among violent criminals - simply put, they aren't smart enough to realize that violence is a dead end long term survival strategy. All they see is that it works for the moment.

Another extreme is these are drug addicts who have sunk far enough into their addiction that they are no longer competent to execute more high yield robberies. Their goal is to achieve money for their next high and often what you have in your wallet is enough.

Still another issue affecting over-all intelligence is that criminals who tend to mugging people are themselves, often children, (not over, or just barely over eighteen). And that makes him MORE dangerous, not less! Because, on top of a dysfunctional, violent and pathological existence, you also have the self-centeredness, lack of foresight, lack of maturity and emotional capriciousness of a teenager. But this teenager has a gun.

If such a person perceives that something is going wrong with the mugging or carjacking, then it is the next logical step to pull the trigger -- at least according to what he considers 'logic.' That's if - using the same logic - he didn't just walk up and shoot you in the first place.

Why would he do that? It makes sense to him that by just shooting you up front you

a) are going to be in shock and therefore won't be able to identify him later  

    b) won't be able to resist as you are laying there bleeding on the floor and   

    c) seeing you writhe and scream in pain shows how powerful he is.

The bottomline is that most muggers are young, dysfunctional and violent and they may or may not be borderline retarded. And yes, drugs are often a significant factor in their mental state. While it is easy to pity their abused, drug addled lifestyle from the safety of your office, when you are looking down the barrel of his gun, you are going to discover that these animals have fangs and they are so stupid and self-absorbed, they don't care who they bite.

It is important to realize that when you are looking down the barrel of a gun, the mugger, whose finger is on the trigger, is literally an alien species.

He doesn't hold the same values as you do. He has no sympathy or empathy for you - whether you live or die is no matter to him. Except as it might affect, him, he has no concern about your emotions or what you think. If those do affect him, he'll view it as interference with him getting what he wants -- and you won't like the results. While he could pull that trigger on a whim, most people are harmed by muggers because quite frankly, they pissed him off. They either tried to stall him, argue with him, resist ineffectively or scare him away.

Realize the mugger is only concerned with two things. Himself and the NOW. He has no fear of the police Nor does he have any concern that his actions may have long term repercussions for him (the threat of prison is like threatening to send him to his room). Often he considers that YOU are holding HIS money for him (so it's not robbery it is getting back what is rightfully his) And - most importantly - he has absolutely no hesitation about pulling the trigger, because to him, you don't matter.

What matters to him is that he gets what he wants and with little to no risk to himself. And what exactly that might be in his stunted, drug addled mind is anybody's guess. It can change from moment to moment and even he won't know until after he's acted.

Do you now see why avoidance of the whole problem is the best solution?

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Remember earlier we mentioned that crime is the criminal's profession? Well, as far as it can apply to violent crime that concept really comes home to roost with robbers.

Robbers tend to be a little more self-controlled than muggers. Well that's both good news and bad news. We say this because they pose a different kind of danger. While a mugger might shoot you on a whim, robbers commonly are more predictable. The problem with this is that, if you give them reason, they will shoot you faster than a mugger.

And this can include announcing their presence by committing extreme violence (such as shooting or stabbing the security guard). Even if robbers do not kill anyone out right they need to overwhelm and take control of the situation immediately. Due to the more high risk high reward nature of their crime robbers cannot afford to chance an effective resistance to develop or an alert to be issued (e.g. silent alarm to be pressed. Which would bring an effective response).

Remember we mentioned that muggers tend to rob individuals? As such muggers can -- and often do -- work solo. While a robber can work alone when he overwhelms a single clerk at a store, it is just as common that robbers work as part of a team. This is especially important when there are numerous people to control in a situations (such as a bank robbery). This requires a greater degree of coordinated effort and by extension increases the danger of trying to resist a robbery. You may be focusing on one person and his partner will shoot you. This can be complicated by a not unknown strategy of robbers. Namely that not everyone who is 'in' on the crime announces his (or her) presence. The 'sleeper' goes in first and pretending to be among the customers, serves as a back up against something going wrong (e.g. an armed customer).

Another complicating factor with robbers is their love of risk. This is like the high of a gambling addict. There is often something within the personality of robbers that enjoys the rush of power and the thrill of knocking over a high risk/ high yield target. A successful robbery is a coup. It not only gives him the rush, but it also ups his status in the criminal world. This is why there is a distinction between robbers and muggers in that world. Unfortunately, this 'rush' can often lead them to making lethal decisions in the heat of the moment. Although most robberies are committed with just the threat of violence, it is very easy to slip over line of yelling, screaming and threatening with a weapon to using it.

It is both their willingness to use extreme violence against innocent civilians and to target businesses that makes robbers a higher priority than muggers. Realize that businesses are an integral part of a communities well being. If businesses pull up stakes and leave the community suffers.

The -- and we use this term loosely -- good news is that robbers tend to be more 'job oriented.' They want what they want and and if they get it, then they are done. In many ways this makes them safer to deal with -- if you cooperate.

That is to say their motives are based on financial gain rather than  gaining the more subjective and fluid 'props'  common among the younger, less experienced and dysfunctional criminals(4). As far as robbers are concerned they are offering you a choice, cooperate and give them what they want or be hurt. If you cooperate there is no reason to hurt you. In fact, if the target is the business money you may be no more involved than being ordered to the floor while the cash is collected.

This is why -- unless you are ordered to a secondary location -- it is advisable to cooperate with a mugger/robber who has gotten the drop on you. This gives your best chance of not being hurt.

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When the Robber/Mugger Blends

Anyway you cut it robbers and muggers are dangerous. Although for explanation purposes we have differentiated between the two, there is often a great deal of overlap. Someone who has the character traits of a mugger will often attempt robberies of small businesses. In the same vein, a more experienced and dangerous robber will engage in muggings if the need or opportunity arises.

That makes it hard to predict what circumstances you will be facing. The simple fact is you can find yourself in the middle of either a mugging or a robbery just by going about your normal business. Walking to your car or waiting in line at the bank there is always the possibility of something happening. Unfortunately, there is no way to predict whether you are going to be confronted by a 'professional' or a strung out addict trying to get money for more drugs. The former will probably take the money and run, while who knows what the latter is going to decide to do.

For ease of explanation we have largely talked about muggers and robbers operating as individuals. The unpleasant fact is both often operate in groups. This further complicates the situation because you can often finding yourself facing a mixed group.

For example, it is not uncommon for older, more experienced gangbangers to commit muggings and low scale robberies by using younger, less experienced gang members. The younger gangsters are used not only as 'muscle,' but also cannon fodder. The older gangster hangs back, while sending the younger ones forward to commit the crime. Not only does this protect the older gang member from immediate harm if something goes wrong, but it gives him time to react (e.g. pull his gun and shoot a person who is resisting). Unfortunately, this means that if you are the victim you will be facing not only both types, but possibly everything in between. The older member gets the lion's share of the booty, while the younger gangstas up their street credibility for having participated in a crime with the older, more respected gang member.

Another problem with these mixed groups is that any one member can decide to take the 'threat of' into the commission of violence. And there is nothing that the other group members can do to stop it. Often when this happens there is a lot of screaming and yelling between the group members before the group flees. This is an extremely volatile situation that can explode into complete and utter chaos. The robbers, having broken the contract of "don't resist or we will hurt you' now have to face people who have no reason not to resist. Furthermore, because of the actions of one member, they are now all facing murder one charges.

The intent of this page is to show the average person the problems inherent in dealing with violent criminals. While we don't advocate paranoia or passively submitting to violent in order to understand the dangers, one must first understand who commits these kinds of crimes. For the average person -- and even the average martial artist -- there is no reliable way to muster enough firepower to effectively stop these people before they harm you. While it can be done, it takes intensive training and a different mindset than most people are comfortable living with. Knowing the dangers that violent criminals pose, hopefully will help you (the average person) understand the importance of avoidance. And why it is your best chance for personal safety.


1) Add to this that many of the smaller drug dealers are part of a larger organization that the threat of revenge serves as protection. You may kill that particular dealer, but his organization will be hunting you. The price for this 'protection' is that many of these organizations are like pyramid schemes where, most of the money being made by the street dealers is being turned over to the higher ups. We use the term 'protection' loosely as street dealers are considered expendable assets by these groups. They can always get another one.

2) In most states in the US, a killing committed during the commission of a felony is automatically deemed Murder One (the highest degree of murder). The thinking is that because the felony was planned (often using the threat of force) any death resulting from it constitutes pre-planning.

3) Unfortunately, this is not name calling. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is extremely common among the most violent and dumbest criminals. That is the condition when an expectant mother drinks and does drugs during pregnancy. There are mountains of research that proves the damage such behavior can do to a fetus. However, one of the most common effects of FAS is brain damage. While mental retardation is common, even more common is severely diminished IQ -- often bordering just above retardation. Also Google Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) and Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE)

4) Props is the street shorthand/slang for 'proper respects.' Life in the criminal and street underworld by-in-large revolves around a nearly pathological obsession over status and deemed 'respectful' behaviors towards oneself by others. In those circles, not showing a violent person the proper respect is considered a justifiable cause to kill someone.

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Who is Going to Rob You? - Marc MacYoung

To understand why robbery is so dangerous you need to understand who is doing it. And who is doing it has a lot to do with why robbery is so strongly prosecuted. These are not the kind of people you want out on the streets able to ply their trade.

Let's start out with a gross generalization. One that, while technically speaking is wrong, gets an important idea across. That is: There is a difference between muggers and robbers.

Both use either the threat of violence or violence to get what they want. Therefore, both are committing robbery in the legal sense of the word. This is why we say technically speaking there is no difference. To further muddy the water, in daily fact and execution, these differences are often blurred. There is enough overlap to often make it difficult to exactly determine which is which because the same person can commit both crimes.

However, there still exists enough of a difference that words exist to distinguish between the two: muggers and robbers. This distinction is made even in the criminal underworld. So knowing it isn't exactly accurate, for the moment and for explanation purposes, we'll deal with them as distinct groupings.

So what is the difference?

Differences in style, degree and targeting is what distinguishes muggers and robbers. Muggers tend to focus their robberies on individuals -- especially innocent civilians. Robbers tend to focus their activities on more high risk -- and by extension higher yielding -- targets, such as institutions and other criminals.

Risk to Reward Ratio and Workload

To begin to understand the difference between a mugger and a robber, you first must understand this risk/rewards/workload concept. This is a group of overlapping factors that strongly influence each other -- and the nature of crime an individual is willing to commit.

There are many crimes that are far more lucrative than mugging someone. A reasonably well connected drug dealer can make a hundred times more money in a day, than the mugger who someone on the subway. However, dealing is  not only requires something a mugger doesn't want to do, but isn't in accord with the mugger's goals.

Let's say the mugger gets an average of forty dollars per robbery. That's not that much. This especially in light of the fact that sometimes he gets more, other times much less. Although he gets this money in a very short time, this is a very low yield strategy. But on the plus side, it's enough to get him a small amount of money in a short time. This is especially useful for getting cash for one's drug fix or spending money for an evening. (A mugger isn't paying his bills with this kind of crime.) Another advantage is by targeting non-violent civilians, his risk of injury (and capture) is very low. This puts mugging in low risk, low yield and low work.

As any officer who has stopped a street-corner-dealer will tell you, it is not uncommon for dealers to have hundreds of dollars on them. Searches of their residences often turn up thousands of dollars. And those are the petty drug dealers, the really successful ones can make millions. This criminal venture is more of a long term strategy. And yes, the drug dealer is paying not only his business overhead, but his bills. But being a successful drug dealer is something you have to constantly work at. Mugging someone only takes a few seconds.

So why aren't the drug dealers robbed?

Well, they are, but not as often as you might think. Because they too have guns and are ready, willing and able to shoot back(1). And that tends to warn away all but the most ferocious of criminals.

This is the risk to rewards issue. The greater the risk, the greater the reward. Those who are willing to take greater risks to achieve greater yields are known as robbers. The truly hard-core robbers are going to go after the most money whether it be other criminals or institutions.

But in comparison to other lucrative crimes, robbery is still a low work load crime.

The thing about these more lucrative crimes is that they require work. It is a serious misconception that ALL criminals are lazy. They aren't. The higher up, more sophisticated and more lucrative crimes require hard work and planning. What's more is that they require cooperation and personal restraint. Literally, crime is these people's profession. And in a twisted way, they are professionals.

It is also a serious misconception that ALL criminals are stupid. A successful criminal has to be smart, savvy and aware to survive in such an environment. He must not only watch out for the police, but he must always be on guard with other criminals - who will turn against him. (In fact, a significant reason that the Uniform Crime Report's numbers are acknowledged as low is that crime committed by criminals on other criminals are NOT reported to the police).

Recognize that criminals do NOT live in a world where they can believe they are sacrosanct from violence. They know violence can be committed upon them for their actions. But they also realize that violence tends to be causal. Certain crimes, lifestyles, actions and associations are more likely to result in violence. Therefore the smarter ones both take measures against violence (e.g. arming themselves) and/or tend to work rackets that are less prone to violent repercussions (e.g. identity theft and fraud). In the latter case, being themselves less violent and working non-violent crimes, they aren't as likely to be attacked as more violent criminals.

We tell you all this because now you now know who is NOT going to rob you. Older, less-violent, smarter, slicker, hard working criminals, who know that the rewards are not worth the risk, generally aren't the ones doing muggings. Or even the robberies.

And that leaves you facing either the dregs of the criminal world or the most violent. And sometimes both.

The mugger is coming after you because robbing you is quick, easy and a whole lot safer than going after a high risk/high yield target. He'll settle for the lower risk/lower return yield because it's a lot less work.

All the planning it takes to mug someone is putting a weapon in his pocket, walking out his front door and heading out to where there are people with something worth mugging them for. The workload is waiting until a viable victim walks by and then mugging that person

While robbers tend to have it more together than muggers, their work load isn't that great. Contrary to what you might think from the movies, robbers do not spend weeks planning how to knock over an establishment. While it might be a matter of days between 'casing' an establishment and the robbery, it might be a matter of minutes ... or the strategy developed on the spot. They've come prepared to engage in overwhelming violence to achieve their ends ... how much planning do you really need?

Which brings us back to risk/reward. Unlike mugging someone in an otherwise deserted parking lot, robbers know that the police will actively pursue them for going after a business establishment. In the case of bank robbery it will be the FBI. This makes it a much higher risk to the reward. Risky because any kind of robbery is the most severely punished crime next to murder and kidnapping (as often the three are mixed). A murder one charge is only a trigger pull away if something goes wrong(2). Also there is issue of armed guards or armed business owners. Unless these are immediately overwhelmed, the danger is just as great to the robber as his target. If he's going to risk his life and prison time, the returns need to be greater than the low returns one gets from mugging.

Understanding the reward/risk/workload issue will help you better develop effective strategies to keep yourself safe from both muggings and robberies.

Now let's turn our attention to those who commit these crimes.


Tips for Not Getting Car Jacked

What follows are minor additions to the information given on the robbery avoidance tips page. These apply directly to theft of your vehicle. The rarest form of carjacking is where the carjacker runs up to your car when you are stopped at a light, stop sign or parked, opens the door and drags you out. He then jumps in and drives away. For this type of carjacking.

Tip #1 - Wear a Seatbelt 

Not only can wearing a seatbelt save your life, but it also is a serious deterrent to carjackers.

Reason: A carjacking at a stoplight relies on speed. A carjacker has to open the door, quickly pull the person out of the vehicle, jump in and drive away. Locked doors and seatbelts slow down the process. He cannot gain access and pull you out of the car quickly. A would-be carjacker will see these conditions as he approaches and often abort the process.

Tip #2 - When Stopped in Traffic, Leave Enough Room to See the Rear Tires of the Car in Front of You.

While it is commonly the first vehicle at a light that gets carjacked, the second car often can be targeted -- especially at stop signs and turn lanes where the car in front will be moving shortly. The idea is that by the time the carjacker pulls you out of your car, the car in front will have moved on.

Carjackings from stopped vehicles tend to occur in medium traffic levels. Gridlock is not conducive to a fast get away. Nor is the criminal going to be able to successfully steal your car when you are traveling 45 mph. Therefore, carjackings tend to happen in slow, stop or choke points (e.g., turn lanes, stop signs and driveway exits). These are places where the criminal will have the ability to quickly join other traffic and escape. The same elements that he needs in order to successfully carjack your vehicle can be used to foil his attempt.

Reason: By leaving enough space to see the tires of the car in front of you, you leave yourself room to maneuver. Different cars, SUVs and trucks have different turn radii so there is no hard and fast rule as to what this distance will be. But, generally speaking, being able to see the tires of the car in front of you over the hood of your vehicle should give you enough room.

If someone unexpectedly appears by your car door, you can -- with this space -- floor the accelerator and escape. There is no legitimate reason for a person to be in this position in the middle of traffic.

Although stopping at this distance can help prevent carjacking, it also is a safe driving practice. It can help keep your car from being pushed into the vehicle in front of you if your auto is rear-ended at a stoplight. It also helps prevent the car in front hitting your vehicle if it rolls back (as occasionally happens with stick shifts and bad drivers). And these kind of traffic accidents are more common than carjackings.

Note: When it comes to carjacking, there is a risk of being shot at this point. Several factors come into play, however. 1) Although many carjackers have guns, many thefts are done by groups or at knife point -- especially in places where strict penalties exist for carrying a gun. (Remember, the criminal has to get to where he going to commit the crime. During that time, he is at risk of being stopped by a cop). So you are not always going to be facing a gun. 2) Many criminals are not good shots. The more distance between you and him, the safer you are. 3) It's hard to shoot straight while dodging out of the way to avoid being run over. Face it, your car is bigger than he is. 4) Modern triage methods have greatly increased your chances of surviving a single gunshot. Now this last one may not sound like much of a comfort, but it is important.

Your chances of survival are far less if you are trapped and the criminal shoots you multiple times. Your chances of surviving are much greater if you are shot only once while fleeing. The latter strategy gets you out of range of being shot more than once. Cold comfort we know, but it is a pragmatic and realistic approach to a dangerous subject.

Tip #3 - Immediately Lock Your Doors When You Get In Your Car. 

This is a good habit to get into anyway. It takes no more than a second, and you can proceed to ready yourself for travel in greater safety and at your leisure.

Reason: General Ulysses S. Grant was once asked why he posted a line of cavalry around the camp. It was pointed out that any attack would easily punch through such a thin line. His response, "They buy us time." This way we don't wake up with the bastards in our tents." The same idea applies here. A locked door doesn't necessarily stop a carjacker. But it does prevent you from first learning of his presence when he grabs you and drags you out of your car at knife point.

If you wish, you can make it to your second action after putting keys in the ignition and starting the car. That way, while you put on your seatbelt and adjust your belongings, your car is warming up. This is actually good for your engine since most of the wear and tear occurs when it is started. If instead of immediately putting it into gear and driving, you let it warm up, you will significantly extend the life of your engine. If an emergency arises, you can simply slam the car into gear and escape.

In the presence of a gun, however, we recommend getting out and giving up your car. He can pull the trigger faster than you can put your vehicle in gear and drive away.

Tip #4 - Do NOT Open the Door or Roll Down the Window to Talk to Someone.

It is usually a bad sign when someone unexpectedly appears at the side of your car. Like phone calls after 10 p.m., it's not going to be good news. People who appear unexpectedly usually want something. If you decide to talk to them, do not open the door or roll the window down all the way.

Reason: Although a window won't stop a bullet, it can stop hands and knives. By only rolling your window down slightly, you prevent an attacker from reaching in, opening your door, snatching items from your person or robbing you at knife point.

You might also want to put the car in gear before you crack the window. If something is amiss, you can accelerate out of danger. If someone tells you something is wrong with your car do not get out and look. Thank them for the information and tell them you will look into it. Then drive away.

Be especially cognizant of such a person grabbing and working your car door handle. There is no legitimate reason for such an action. Actions such as knocking at your window are often used as a cover for this. If you see a criminal trying to work your door handle, immediately put your car in gear and start driving away.

The second -- and far more common -- form of carjacking, however, is when the thief simply walks up when you are getting into your car and puts a gun in your face. The carjacker then grabs your keys (and possibly your purse), jumps in and drives away. This type of carjacking resembles a typical robbery. Again we stress that most of the same measures that will keep you safe from robbery apply here.

Tip #5 - Look Around Before You Put the Key into the Lock .

This is the second check to do in a fringe area (the first is when you entered). Most carjackings occur in parking lots, as do many robberies and abductions. It is an excellent strategy to look around before you put yourself into a position where you can be trapped.

It is better still to look around as you approach the car. If a shady character is close by, keep on moving. Do not put yourself in the narrow gap between cars.

Reason: A quick scan will show if you have been followed. Most carjackings occur as you open the car door or are getting ready to drive away. Many people wrongly assume that when they reach their cars, they are safe. Not true. Even if you lock the door, if he has a gund he can shoot through the window. Or he can smash the window and threaten you with a knife. It is far better to spot someone approaching as you near your car than  to try and extract yourself from a situation already gone bad.

 Tip #6 -  Have Someone Time You to See How Long It Takes to Get into Your Car, Start It and Drive Away.

Many people think of their vehicle as "safety." But you will not be safe from a criminal on foot until your car is doing about 15 mph. This is why you should never try to reach your car if you think someone is trying to rob you. The time it takes to unlock your car, get in, start it, put it in gear, back out and drive away is too great.

Reason: Even when doing it as quickly as you can, this process is slow. Have someone start timing you at about 10 feet from the vehicle. Signal when you reach 15 mph in the car. Now see how much distance a person can cover in that time. The first time, again start 10 feet from your car and have the person helping you about 20 more feet behind you. That's 30 feet from your car. You have to unlock the car and get in before the person reaches you. Repeat this, gradually increasing the distance until the person can no longer reach you before you drive away.

If an unsavory character is within that distance and approaching, do not try to get in your car. He is close enough to get to you.

This also is why you always need to look around when you reach your car and again before you try to put the key in the door. Knowing how long it takes will prevent you from making a potentially deadly mistake if there is a carjacker approaching.

Tip #7 - If Someone Approaches While You're Getting into Your Car, MOVE!

Do NOT stand there and watch him approach you: Control the distance by moving away from him.

Carjackers tend to work with partners. This is especially true, when they drive up to you as you are getting into your car. One jumps out and carjacks you while the other speeds away.

Reason A carjacker must close with you to gain control of the situation. Your feet are not nailed to the ground. If someone approaches you, move! Preferably, around the hood of your car, which puts something between you and him; as well as giving you cover in case he starts shooting. But get away from the car door.

Tips #8 - Throw Your Car Keys.

Your car keys go one way, you go another.

Reason: The criminal now has to choose, you or the car. If he is after your car, then his task is made more difficult because he has to go looking for the keys. If he decides to pursue you, then you know he wasn't really interested in the car after all. This tells you the extent of your danger and what response is warranted. If he pursues you, he is running away from his escape route -- whether that is your car or his friends in another vehicle.

Some might advocate throwing the keys at the criminal -- we do not. The reason we advocate throwing your keys away from the criminal is twofold. First, he is not harmed which makes him less likely to shoot. If you hurt him, he now has an investment in hurting you back. Second, if you throw your keys at him then you are giving him your keys. By throwing them away, you increase your chances of his not getting your car.

Tip #9 - Get Theft Insurance.

Certain cars are more likely to be targeted. Before you buy a new car, check with the police if that make of car is currently in the "Top 10" of stolen vehicles.

Reason: Cars are most often stolen for parts. The vehicle is chopped up and sold to body shops. The body shop pays $1,000 on a part that the manufacturer would charge $5,000 for. The shop turns around and charges you the dealer price and mark up. By doing this the shop made an additional $4,000 profit. This particular risk of theft lasts until enough of the car model becomes easily available in the junkyards -- where parts can be legally purchased for a reduced price.

If given a choice between filing an insurance claim or getting shot, giving up your car suddenly looks much more appealing.

Tip #10 - Get Lojack, On Star or Other Tracking Device.

A locating system on your car can do wonders for getting it back before it is chopped up and also can help lower insurance rates with some agencies.

Reason: Stolen cars are often taken to large parking lots and left for a few days. Due to the high number of auto thefts, descriptions of stolen cars only stay on the "hot sheets" for a short time. (Hot sheets are listings and descriptions of newly stolen cars used for quick reference by law enforcement.) On cars that have been "stashed" for a few days, the only way to tell if they have been stolen is to pull them over and "run the numbers." By simply waiting a few days, thieves greatly reduce their chances of being caught.

If your car has a locating system, however, all it takes is a phone call to have it found. If you make the call fast enough, you can often have the criminal arrested while still in the car.


Having both insurance and this kind of system will do wonders for your willingness to let the criminal have your car. This will lessen the chances of you foolishly trying to resist a carjacker, who gets the drop on you. And cell phones are faster than driving.

Tip #11-  If Despite All this Information, a Carjacker Gets the Drop on You, Give Him Your Car Keys.

It sounds so stupidly obvious to say this, but the number of people who are killed or wounded by carjackers every year, prove that people do it.

Do NOT attempt to argue, fight or resist someone who has a gun screwed up your nose!

Accept that he won this round and give him your keys.

Reason: The carjacker has come prepared for violence. You, on the other hand, were just getting into your car. It is an incredibly rare person who can flash into committing lethal violence. In fact by the time most people can get over their shock and decide to resist, the criminal has already pulled the trigger.

Even if you could make that mental jump that fast, it only takes a second to pull the trigger. Can you inflict lethal force that fast? That is what it would take to keep you teeth from being blown out of the back of your skull when the criminal has the drop on you.

Furthermore, at that range, the criminal will not just shoot you once, but repeatedly. This is why we suggest -- if you lapsed in awareness and personal safety habits and allowed a carjacker to close with you -- you just give up your car and accept the fact you have some identity theft, burglary and insurance problems coming your way. Alive with problems is better than dead or in the ICU with a sucking chest wound.

Why Are Carjackings More Dangerous?

While any kind of robbery is dangerous, carjackings take on a particularly nasty twist because the vehicles themselves create walls and limit your options.

In the Five Stages of Violent Crime, the third stage is called "positioning." This is where the criminal puts himself into position to successfully attack you. One of the types of positioning is cornering/trapping. That is where the criminal 'pins' you between himself and a large object (such as the car). The presence of a car -- and often the car door as well -- seriously limits your mobility and increases your chances of being trapped. Even in an open parking lot, the presence of four cars can create a "hallway" that makes it easy to shoot you.

This is why you need to remember to flee in front of or behind your car. Donot run down the "hallway" between cars since that leaves you in the line of fire. By cutting in front of your vehicle or another, you put something between you and the criminal. Even if the cars are parked against the wall, there is often room for you to wiggle through. If not, scramble over the car's hood or trunk.

The main idea, however, is to flee the scene ASAP.

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Using Lethal Force for Defense

Before we proceed you need to realize an important issue: In the American court system, life is normally given priority over property.

This is why, in most states, you cannot shoot a thief running away with your property. Nor will you be allowed -- again in most states -- to shoot a person who has just robbed you and is running away. The immediate threat to your person has passed.

This page is not designed to offer legal advice. Nor should it be construed as such. It is however designed to acquaint you with a few of the more important factors that are involved in the subject use of deadly force. And  why you need to consult with your attorney and receive training on this issue *before* you find yourself in a situation -- much less court. Laws vary from state to state, country to country. Ignorance of the law - especially when it comes to using lethal force - is not a defense... anywhere.

Introduction to Use of Force

Critical decision

You need to make a serious decision right now. And that is decide if you are willing to use lethal force to protect yourself -- because your life is on the line. Not threaten to use. Not "well it depends." Not "well if I have to". Nor is "can't I just scare him away by waving it around?" an acceptable answer.

Yes or no.

And if you choose yes, then you are accepting the responsibility that you will be acting with dedication and commitment to take another human life. If you ever do that, you will have to live with the repercussions and guilt for the rest of your life. And that is not easy. Therefore a 'yes' answer is not an act of bravado or macho, but a rational, calculated decision to take responsibility.

If you are not, that is an acceptable answer too. But recognize that it too has consequences.

However, it is important to realize that when it comes to robbery/ carjacking/ aggravated assault it can be, and often is, a life and death issue. You can either become a killer or be killed. And it can happen in a blink of an eye. If you have not made an informed decision before finding yourself in such a situation, then the odds are seriously against you being able to do it in the middle of a crisis. And by extension, the odds are against you being the one who will survive.

As the decision has been made in advance, so too has the research been done when you are legally allowed to use deadly force (i.e. defending yourself with a gun or defending yourself with a knife)

 Self-defense plea: The pool has been peed in.

Recognize right up front, that no matter what his motivations really were when he pulled the trigger, when he is facing the police, every scum bucket has claimed it was "self-defense." In fact, there was one precedent setting case in California, were an armed robber claimed "it was self-defense" when the person he was attempting to rob pulled a gun to fight back and the robber shot him. Now maybe in whatever alternative reality he lives in stabbing someone fifteen time for insulting him is "self-defense" but that definition doesn't hold water with the police, much less the courts.

Unfortunately, both sides claiming it was self-defense make up about 99% of the cases the police see. And it isn't just one side lying, it's usually both. That old clich?about "taking two to fight" is true. Which means in that same 99% both sides were actively fighting and are now not only blaming the other, but protesting their 'innocence.'

Therefore, even in the most "clean shooting" it's going to be an uphill battle trying to prove to the police and the courts that your actions were justified. And that your claims of self-defense are not just another case of someone trying to wiggle out of the repercussions of committing a murder. This battle is going to be even harder if you were doing something stupid/illegal/ borderline illegal /inflammatory or participatory. In otherwords if you were part of the problem. A problem that resulted in a body hitting the floor.

This is why you had better do your homework and discover exactly how narrow of a spectrum it is that you are legally allowed to use deadly force. And then make sure that your actions fall within those boundaries.

Immediate, means "at this very second."

There is literally nothing more dangerous to you and your family than *not*understanding what is meant by "immediate" or "imminent" (depending on which term your state uses). This idea cuts through *all* emotions, fears, thoughts and suspicions and defines when you are - in the eyes of the law - justified to use lethal force.

If he isn't trying to kill you right now, you aren't justified to use lethal force.

It doesn't matter if he is standing there screaming and threatening to kill you, or if has said that he is going to come back and get you or  -- in many states -- has just pointed a gun at you, demanded your wallet and is now running away -- those are not considered "immediate threat of death or grave bodily injury." Because he isn't trying to kill you at that exact moment.


Not understanding the meaning of this term will put you in prison for murder. At the very least it will endanger everything you own to litigation....and, odds are, you will lose if you pulled the trigger at the wrong time.

In theory, someone standing across the room waving a knife threatening to kill you isn't offering you an immediate threat. Which means that you cannot legally shoot him. On the other hand, when he starts charging across the room, then you are in immediate and immanent danger of death or previous bodily harm. The reason being is that a knife is a close range weapon and by rushing at you, he is now capable of harming you. Now granted his brandishing the weapon in a threatening manner is in and of itself a crime, but not enough to warrant shooting him.

Now that is theory, in reality this is somewhat of a grey area. Not only does it depend on whose lawyer is better, but also the laws of the particular state (or country), what the legal precedents are there and what is the current local interpretation is. In one court you might be acquitted for shooting him while he is drawing the gun, whereas in others you will be convicted if you shoot before he has fired the first shot.

At the very best of times it is a very, very slippery slope.

Unfortunately, a situation that has spun so far out of control that deadly force was used, is very seldom the best of times.

Two citizens in dispute 

You may look at a potential attacker and say "what a dirtbag." You may even go so far as to rationalize that "he deserves whatever he gets" for attacking you. Not to be the bearer of bad tidings, but according to the Constitution he's got the same rights as you do.

This brings us to the heart of the matter. It isn't you (a heroic and innocent taxpaying citizen) and a dirtbag (a lifelong criminal whose execution would benefit society). In the eyes of the law it is "two citizens in dispute."

And that is to say that nobody "deserves" anything without due process of the law.


People misbehave and do stupid and illegal things. That is an undisputable fact. Now the question before the court is which citizen was most out of line, you or him.?

Don't think that the fact that you are a clean cut civilian or a woman will automatically indicate your innocence. That public pool also needs serious chlorine treatment for urine. In otherwords police are accustomed to seeing nice, white middle class people trying to score drugs from street corner drug dealers. And such deals often go wrong -- as do any kind of drug deal.. Even if you are not familiar with the rising statistics of crimes (especially violent ones) committed by women, doesn't mean that the police aren't.

What all of this means is that if you find yourself in such a situation your actions will be seriously scrutinized for any misconduct or excess. And if there are any, then you will be treated like a criminal. More importantly, you will have broken the same laws and perpetrated on him the same wrongs he was trying to do to you.

Moreover, if you choose to carry a knife you need to know that such a weapon is considered a "thug's weapon" in most cultures. And if you do use a knife on someone then you had damn well make sure that the wound pattern matches your claim of "self-defense." Unfortunately, most training in stick and knife arts don't take either issue into consideration. They are in fact, training you to end up in prison for murder.

Lethal Force Items

The bottom line is that you cannot use a 'lethal force instrument' on another person unless you yourself are -- in essence -- in the same degree of danger.

Putting that in plain English, if he punches you, you can't pull a knife and carve him and claim it was 'self-defense.' You have have not defended your body from the immediate threat of death or grave bodily injury, you've used a weapon to win a fight. You especially need to be careful about using a so-called 'tactical knife'). The reason for this is he was not offering you the same level of physical threat as you responded with. By pulling your weapon when there is no real danger to your person, you've escalated the situation. And that makes you the aggressor.

Judicious Use of Lethal Force 

As mentioned elsewhere we tend not to endorse specific products or services, which means when we do it is something that we strongly believe in. One of these is Massad Ayoob's Judicious use of lethal force seminar. We categorically recommend this program in either form. The first is a two day lecture on the legalities of using lethal force. The five day course is that as well as gun safety and shooting

If you are already a gun owner or carry a knife for "self-defense" then you highly advised to take these courses to protect yourself from criminal and civil charges. Although you can buy the DVD, it isn't the same as attending the course. It is the best insurance that you can buy to protect your home and family. As many people who have lost everything in court to the very person they had to defend themselves against have discovered.

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